Sierra Leone - Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP) - June 2022
Hassan Kamara - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) established the Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP) in 2008 to help ensure that rural communities have access to the financial services they need. The programme now boasts of 76 Rural Financial Institutions (RFIs) located in rural towns and villages across the country.
Hassan is 36 years, married, and has two children. From 1998 until 2014, he worked with his father as a blacksmith for very little pay. For four years during that time, Hassan was apprenticed to another shop, where he learned to weld. He built a reputation among the clients as a reliable worker and a fine welder. But he wanted more for himself.
In 2015, a friend told him about the Niawa Financial Services Association (FSA) and explained how he could get a loan to start his own business. Hassan didn’t take it seriously at the time, but he continued to think about it. A few months later he decided to ask for a loan.
With no collateral and no guarantor, Hassan asked his older brother for help. Together, they went to the bank where he described his skills and business plan to the bank manager, who reluctantly approved a loan of just SLE 500 (US$35), which Hassan paid back in only five days. With subsequent loans, Hassan started and expanded a very lucrative welding business producing manual oil palm processing machines and other iron products.
In just six years, Hassan has grown a successful business in his rural community. He employs four young men and has 23 trainees learning welding and blacksmithing in his shop. He recently built a home for his family and is building a new workshop on the main highway where business should be even better.
“Today, I am my own boss and the breadwinner for my family.”
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